Today, police armed with pepper spray, batons, and chemical paintball weapons attempted to arrest nonviolent student demonstrators staging an occupation on the grounds of UC Davis. The casual use of force shown here is quite revealing.
In response, students – again, nonviolent – confront the police with calls of ‘shame!’ and begin to push them back, off the UC Davis quad. At one point, they inform the police that they will be given a moment of peace in order to gather their weapons and leave. Eventually, this happens.
This film is an important example of the power of organized civil disobedience and the role of new forms of visibility in policing of police. Note the multitude of cameras.
Commentary from BoingBoing:
At UC Davis today, students inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement sat down on the grass in an open area of the school campus. In the video above, you can see a police officer walk past a group of these young people who are seated quietly on the ground in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience. He walks down the line, and sprays them all with pepper spray, at close range. It’s as if he’s exterminating a row of sleeping bugs with bug spray
In the comment thread following the BoingBoing post, a common – but important – discussion is unfolding. Some participants, while expressing dismay at the police actions here, say that the police should be excused because they are ‘just doing their jobs’, and therefore cannot be blamed. Other participants claim that indeed they can and should be blamed – and held accountable – for these actions, and that ‘duty’ is not an excuse.
To my students: I encourage you to weigh in on this discussion, and to comment on this video more generally. You can post comments to this entry.